Kent Braces for Corona Virus

Miranda Chong, Campus Reporter

A little more than two months ago, several cases of a mysterious respiratory disease appeared in Wuhan, China. Authorities traced the origin of the disease to a local fish market and kept it on lockdown. At that point, no one was sure of the nature of the virus, except that it resembled the SARS outbreak in 2003, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide before it was contained.

In the span of two weeks, this unknown virus already began spreading across the city of Wuhan, and into other major hubs in China. Around that same time, neighboring countries such as Thailand and Japan had also reported their first cases. The city of Wuhan has been under lockdown since January 23, ceasing the flow of people and goods in order to minimize the spread of the virus.

However, the virus continued to spread, at an exponential rate across Asia and Europe by way of major public transportation, like planes and most notably the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama.

An unfortunate side-effect of the global paranoia regarding the virus is a growing wave of racism and xenophobia towards Asians, especially in western countries. As such, it is important to remember that many people are suffering worldwide as a result of the virus, and try our best to be empathetic and helpful towards them.

As for the United States, to combat the risks of the virus spreading, the US Department of State issued a travel advisory barring foreign nationals who have been to China for the last 14 days from entry, and requires a 14-day quarantine before re-entering the country for those who travel officials believe may have been exposed to the virus. This has created significant challenges to Kent School’s international student population, which makes up around 30% of the total student population. Many students, especially those from China, are unable to return home as a result of the travel advisory and the threat of the virus.

The Health Center has taken steps to ensure the health and safety of all students by following the government’s guidelines and implementing a 14-day quarantine to those who travel to high-risk countries and locations. Also, all students were required to fill a form detailing their travel plans for spring break.

In response to the displacement of some of Kent School’s international students, the school allowed those who have nowhere to go to stay on campus in the dormitories, where activities were provided to entertain students.

Finally, the novel coronavirus has so far shown no signs of deterioration and is likely to continue to infect more people. It is imperative to exercise proper preventative measures like good hygiene and to also remain calm and not succumb to the spreading panic.